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Houston startup develops tech to equip businesses with the social media skills they need to thrive
Just look at any smartphone on the market and it becomes evident just how pervasive mobile apps have become, especially social media apps.
As the social networking sphere has revolutionized communication, technology has spawned multitudinous variants in the most organic way. That kind of technological momentum lends itself to why platforms like Guide App have a chance to be the next big thing in the space.
The company's CEO and co-founder, Tim Salau, tells InnovationMap that Guide is a social learning and development platform that aims to revolutionize learning experiences for creators, leaders, and organizations.
“Guide is a social learning platform for creators who are freelancers and work in the entertainment and media industry,” says Salau, Houston native and University of Texas graduate. “And they can use Guide to create and learn production skills. We pivoted in late 2019 as the pandemic hit, and we realized that Guide could be used as a B2B platform and solution for businesses to onboard and train their remote workers.
“So that's really what makes us money, and we really decided to build it because we saw that there was a huge gap in the business space of a bite-sized training platform and solution, and to do what TikTok and Reels was doing in the consumer space, but for professionals with security and privacy in mind for organizations,” he says.
With the pivot, businesses can now use Guide as a platform to onboard and train new hires for their respective companies.
“Ideally, it would be pretty much anyone within the marketing department, the product management division, or even engineers within their organizations who are creators in the sense of migrating to creative work in their own different disciplines,” says Salau. “And they could use Guide to potentially maybe create a video that's 90 seconds or less on everything a new hire needs to know within the first 90 days in the product management role or in the marketing role.”
Tapping into trends
Salau explains how he's got his ear to the ground when it comes to trends within media.
“With the way that things are moving in the entertainment and media industry and what's been happening with these strikes, I see the short-form content becoming even more important because people are not necessarily attending movie theaters at a high engagement rate,” says Salau. “Then there are multiple streaming platforms have so many gates and paywalls up, a lot of people aren't necessarily using all of these streaming platforms and seeing all of the long-form content out."
“I'm starting to see that in the next three to five years, macro content will become more important, and instead of the streaming era that we've seen in the last few years or in the last decade or so led by Netflix, I'm going to use our mock theory, we're going to start seeing a beaming era in which we're going to start seeing content being pushed to creators and consumers, that is literally tailored to what they want.”
According to Salau, platforms such as Instagram and TikTok push content based on their respective algorithms that followers don’t necessarily want to see, and that takes time away from the content they need, when they need it.
“Looking forward, it’s clear that in the sense of taking away all of the distractions that we see on these platforms, at Guide, we want to push content as it comes from the creators,” says Salau. “And for us, that focus will be on microcontent, which is content that’s 90 seconds or less.”
Data shows that the best micro content is video content that clocks in around 15 seconds.
“Content that goes up to 30 seconds is probably even cutting it a little bit too long, but the content that really goes a lot, and goes really viral on those platforms is 15 seconds,” says Salau. “And now that TikTok is becoming a more long-form entertainment platform, you're starting to see them kind of strip away from what really got them popular and buzzworthy.”
Popularity aside, one of the major tenets of content creation is monetization.
“Getting to the point where creators will be able to monetize their content is our goal at Guide,” says Salau. “We have to build up towards that goal, but that’s the intent. We intend on having them be able to create profiles where they can actually list their merch. They can post about merch in their videos, and more importantly, get to a point where people can actually buy the entertaining content that they have.”
Once Guide reaches monetization, creators will be able to list content at the price they want it and have associated merchandise of their brand. This is a huge difference from how TikTok and Instagram and other consumer video platforms get creators paid.
“We see that it's better to actually go the other route and actually allow creators to monetize their own brand, which is what every creator often really wants,” says Salau. “That’s ideal because when a creator brings consumer brands into the picture, they have to play to what they want from an advertisement and dollars type of standpoint. So, we don't want to actually get into that world. We want to really keep everything creator oriented.”
Curating a culture of creators
At this point, Guide has about 150 creators, because they’ve been very selective with their icon program.
“We don’t believe that everyone’s a creator,” says Salau. “Because if everyone is a creator, then no one is a creator.
“And we kind of see this with a lot of the creator platforms out there. Just because anyone can create content with a smartphone doesn't mean it's content that's edifying or beneficial that people are actually enriching and learning from. So, we're really big on learning, because we see ourselves in that space.”
As Salau and team look forward with Guide, they plan on continuing to address the learning and talent development gap for remote and mobile teams. They’ll also remain focused on being the kind of platform where creators can talk about the behind-the-scenes and the process of how to make music or how to approach acting, or how to think about set production when on a set.
“With Instagram and TikTok, it’s really much more about fun and virality, and doing something that gets a reaction, versus helping people learn,” says Salau. “So, with us, the feedback we've received is, ‘I get it,’ and ‘I'm interested.’ And I want to continue learning and growing with y'all. Thank you.”